<!-- 18. --> Leadership in Management

Action point

Action point

How you use your physiology – the way you move, speak and project energy is a major component of influencing other people. Skilled influ- encers often project strong levels of physical energy. When they move they use their body language in a positive manner. They don’t slouch or appear slow or laid back.

  • They offer a strong and firm handshake.
  • They speak with an effective voice tone and vary the pace to emphasize key points.
  • They move swiftly and with energy.
  • They gesticulate and use strong hand movements – forcefully tapping a table, using firm hand movements to people.
  • They using sweeping hand movements to involve people.
  • They will invade other people’s space – moving in on them to impose themselves.
  • They stand up in meetings and walk around.

So think about your body language and physiology and how you project energy to other people. Can you do more to project energy and influence?

Physical gestures

Physical gestures can vary a lot between cultures and are therefore a potential minefield. But there are some classic behaviours we can all look out for. For example, a nodding head is usually taken in most Anglo Saxon cultures as a sign of agreement or understanding. In addition, by nodding you will usually encourage someone else to continue talking. In contrast the classic ‘looking at your watch’ can signal boredom or a need to move on and, when used, provided the person is sensitive to these things will usually bring proceedings to a swift conclusion.

Also watch for classic symptoms such as:

  •  Folded arms (disinterest, bored – although in some cultures this denotes attention and respect).
  • Leaning back in a chair (relaxed and comfortable).
  • Head in hands (boredom, disinterest).
  • No eye contact (bored, shy, lacking confidence, distrust – just from this simple list you see the potential dangers of misinter¬≠preting such behaviours).


When someone’s hands are not used in conjunction with their speech this can indicate a nervousness and a need to develop further rapport. Conversely, we will all be familiar with hand wringing or clenched knuckles as indicating anxiety or mounting tension.

The movement of hands to the face or mouth can also indicate some form of discomfort or stress. Possibly touching an ear lobe indicates a negative evaluation with what has been said or a refusal to accept the information. Some people argue that a hand to mouth when they are speaking suggests that a lie or untruth is being spoken.

Stroking the chin is believed to indicate thought and a weighing up of what is being said. Whereas when an index finger is pointed vertically towards a lip and the other fingers rest underneath the chin suggests that a critical evaluation is taking place.

Facial expressions

These are perhaps more obvious than other cues, since we all know how to ‘look bored’ and show ‘delight’. So as well as trying to spot others’ behaviours try to remain aware of your own facial expressions and use them to your advantage. The effective deployment of facial expressions can be critical in negotiating or sales type meetings. If you sense problems with another person as a result of their expressions check them out, “You look surprised, shocked by that comment?”

Voice tone and other verbal cues

“That’s very interesting” spoken in a monotone voice is unlikely to convince anyone that you are interested in what they are saying. So don’t betray any personal feelings or opinions though your voice tone as it is an easy give away to other people. “Mm”, “aha” every now and again will help to keep your speaker talking. Avoid “err” or “ugh” as they can sometimes suggest a lack of confidence, or lack of attention.

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